Jar Jar Binks

Jar Jar Binks is a fictional character in the Star Wars movies: The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. His primary role was to be comic relief--based on his gangly way of walking, and his Jamaican style of talking. Jar Jar's voice was portrayed by Ahmed Best, a black Jamaican pop-star. He is completely computer generated, but was played in costume by Ahmed. After the movie was released the character was widely ridiculed and disliked. He is a seven-foot-tall Gungan, with long ears and eyes mounted on stalks, and overall looks something vaguely like an anthropomorphized duck.

It is commonly speculated by detractors that Jar Jar represents a cynical turn in Lucas' epic, pandering to the commercial incentive by the inclusion of what amounts to little more than a highly marketable "gimmick". The appearance of Jar Jar, before, during and after the release of the film on a rash of merchandise products and in almost ubiquitous marketing tie-ins and cross promotions did little to allay the fear that Lucas had, indeed, 'sold out'. (It should be noted that similar charges were levelled at the appearance of the teddy-bear like Ewoks in 1983's Return of the Jedi.)

Some of the more venomous and piercing charges against the character of Jar Jar (and subsequently against Lucas, his creator) suggest that Jar Jar represents the racist "comedy relief" stereotype seen in many motion pictures of the first half of the 20th century. His dialect, along with his bodily expressions and tendency to get into trouble, was reminiscent of Stepin Fetchit and other, similar roles (which were often played by African American actors). This criticism is compounded when viewed in light of the depiction of other accents in the same film. Notably, detractors claim, the greedy, commercial trade federation spoke with Japanese accents, and the dirty, cruel shopkeeper (who lives in a desert climate) spoke with a Middle Eastern accent.

Jar Jar is given a signifigantly more utilitarian role in Attack of the Clones. Having acquired some esteem from those around him, he is suddenly cast into a pivotal role, by filling in for Padme Amidala on the senate, and moves an army into action, which then sets up the entire plot for the Clone Wars. We see, in this action, Jar Jar's innocence betrays him as he inadvertently causes the undoing of the Galactic Republic. In this light, the character takes on a new depth and significance.

It is believed George Lucas may have written this shift in character importance quite reactively, in a last-ditch effort to win the fans back.

In the light of all the fuss surrounding the character, it has almost been forgotten that he was the first CGI character ever to interact realistically with live actors.

Character story

Banished from his childhood home, Jar Jar lives in the swamps of Naboo. In the events of The Phantom Menace, Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi arrive on Naboo, ending up in the swamps rather than the capital as intended. Qui-gon inadvertantly saves Jar Jar's life. So in a Gungan Life-Debt, Jar Jar feels obligated to stay by Qui-Gon's side till he died. Throughout the mid-part of the movie, Jar Jar spends his time screwing up in what was presumably supposed to be slapstick comedy. Jar Jar took part in the climactic battle at the end of the movie. He also played a key role in it after becoming General. Because of his clumsiness Jar Jar sends a cascading wave of Energy Balls into a bunch of robot soldiers which, luckily, decreases the Federation army's numbers drastically.

In Attack of the Clones, Jar Jar (who has much less screen time) becomes a politician who deputizes for Padme Amidala in the Galactic Senate and is influenced to pass a bill giving Supreme Chancellor Palpatine emergency powers to raise a clone army and, presumably beginning the slide towards dictatorship and the replacement of the Galactic Republic with the Galactic Empire.

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